Using DEVONthink for media and bigger file management, instead of Dropbox/iCloud Drive

Just curious if this is a good idea for DEVONthink. I have a folder that contains mostly things like DMGs, some Software I bought, some things like music snippets or media. I don’t frequently access it, just mostly when setting up a new Mac or when I really need those files once in a while

Pros for DEVONthink:

  • Have everything in one place
  • Encryption!! I’m a privacy nut and care about this a lot, so this is my strongest point
  • Reliable sync
  • On Demand sync on devices lets me get and airdrop only the files I need at a time
  • Backup of the same database to multiple locations, would have to mirror this with some other solution


  • Can’t index those files as they’re not text
  • Huge databases
  • DT isn’t really made for these kinds of files
  • On Demand sync isn’t a thing on the macOS version (sadly)

Just curious to hear some thoughts

I think the “Cons” win overwhelmingly, but if the “Pros” very important to you, why not? That being said while you can “demand” sync of your DMG’s, software, etc. to an iOS device, why?

Just my first past thoughts to reinforce in my view your “Cons”.

Those downsides you mentioned sound more like limitations to the upside than real issues to me :wink:

Sure, many of DT’s functionalities apply only to text-based items. But if the alternative is to manage files in Finder (or the Dropbox/iCloud web interfaces), then DevonThink is the clear winner if we objectively look at the functionality that IS available for non-indexable files: From (custom) metadata to smart rules, batch processing and more.

In my experience, DevonThink also handles huge databases in the hundreds of gigabytes and even in the terabytes very well and hardly takes any performance hit (depends on hardware, of course). I have been using DT to manage any and all data that has value in my eyes in one central database for several years and it has been a great experience.

It’s a work around. I download the files on the device, then airdrop it over. It’s a bit cumbersome but means I don’ thave to download the entire database first

Ok. I get that, but I guess my assumption was that the file types you mention don’t seem to be of much value on an iOS device. Perhaps I’m missing something. I get the music stuff is useable.

I guess instead of thinking about the theoretical, why don’t you just set it all up as you want and give it a try and if it works for you, then keep it. The “instead of” products you mention seem better fit for purpose, but go for it if you like."

Here’s a variant - you could put your DMG’s and other files in a synced location, iCloud, Dropbox, whatever.

Then you could index the location in Devonthink.

When you set up a Devonthink sync store, you have the option of telling it to sync everything, or just imported items.

If you just sync imported items, you’ll have all the annotations, etc., in Devonthink without having the DMG’s in your DT sync store.

My largest DT database to date includes a bunch of Youtube drivel I posted. (Note to self: never argue with a flat earther. Brian Cox was right when he said it was like arguing with a random number generator.)

I think that database was about 300 gig prior to moving media to an indexed location. Now it’s 3.75 gig.